We're not quite in Rafa Benítez territory, but the battle between Sky Sports and BT Sport is turning as acrimonious as some of the storylines both hope will emerge during the new Premier League season.
The high-profile entrance into the market of a deep-pocketed rival to Sky Sports, which has driven the growth of the Premier League and revolutionised sports broadcasting over the past two decades, has raised the stakes for both.
On one side of London, towards the M4, Sky is preparing for the season in new studios with an overhauled schedule and new signings, including Jamie Carragher. In the east, at the Olympic Park, BT is putting the finishing touches to vast studios from where its three sports channels will go live on 1 August.
The phoney war, which has spanned an escalating PR battle and an advertising blitz from both sides, is almost over. Now BT must match its ambitious rhetoric with reality.
Its new studios are housed in the cavernous former Olympic broadcasting centre and include a replica of a football pitch on which pundits including Steve McManaman and Owen Hargreaves will illuminate the action.
They threw open their doors on Monday when Jake Humphrey and his new colleagues began rehearsals. Inside the huge 14,000 sq ft studio, which has been built in record time and to which the Observer was granted exclusive access, a central hub covered in dot matrix screens is the defining feature.
The largest plate-glass windows in Europe offer a view into the gallery, while graphics for Clare Balding's show and for Danny Baker and Danny Kelly's weekly programme are displayed on the screens. But the eye is drawn to the full-size goal and hi-tech floor that can display a range of lighting configurations.
"It's a blank canvas. The football and the rugby guys are already very excited about what they could do with this space," says BT Sport director Simon Green.
Green got the idea for the large, open-plan studio, which will allow viewers to catch glimpses of what is going out on the other BT Sport channels as cameras swoop around, from a broadcaster in Kiev. It will, he says, make the channel feel very different from previous pretenders to Sky's throne.
"We're more personality led. We feel we've got a core of presenters who viewers will really enjoy," says Green. "Without getting personal, the presentation of football hasn't come on a huge amount in the last 15 years. We think we'll bring something different."
Des Kelly, a journalist who will present a nightly live show that mixes sports news with opinion, entertainment and celebrity guests, said the studios were "like something out of Blade Runner".
Besides the Premier League, BT will air football from around Europe, Premiership rubgy, the FA Cup, WTA tennis, MotoGP, Ultimate Fighting and a range of other sports. It is available free to BT broadband subscribers, but costs £10 a month for non-subscribers. Sky, for its part, has affected nonchalance and has been keen to emphasise the breadth and depth of its offering – it will still show 116 live top-flight matches to BT's 38.
Yet Humphrey and the executives who hired him to open up a new flank in BT's broader battle with BSkyB for broadband and television subscibers have been bullish about their prospects.
"BT Sport are different to what's gone before, they present a serious challenge. We're the new noisy neighbours, the Man City, so it's natural Sky want to protect their dominant position," says Kelly.
BT has argued that Sky's coverage is "cold", promising to bring a new vitality and accessibility. Balding will host a weekly interview show and BT has vowed to bring the inclusiveness of the BBC's Olympics coverage to its channels.
"We don't want to be Sky Sports. It is great at what it does. We're much more personality led. We want to be wider and more accessible," said Green.
Sky, fiercely proud of its comprehensive coverage and reputation for innovation, has been withering in public and scathing in private about its new rival. The simmering enmity exploded on Thursday when the two broadcasters unveiled their first tranche of live matches for the opening weeks of the season. Sky Sports has bagged the managerial debuts of David Moyes and Manuel Pellegrini, plus the second coming of José Mourinho, on the opening weekend.
Their managing director, Barney Francis, said that contrary to BT's advertising strapline, its lineup of matches showed it was no "game changer" – the implication being that for all its big talk, BT offered little different to other former rivals such as Setanta and ESPN.
BT Vision's chief executive Marc Watson hit back, saying the criticism, and a strategy he claimed was designed to "block" BT in the early part of the season, showed that Sky was deeply worried. "They've spent most of their time talking about us. I think they're pretty rattled. I know they're obsessed by us but we're not obsessed by them. We're obsessed by creating some great channels," he said.
Asked what he thought of Sky's new Saturday schedule, which will segue from its Football League lunchtime match, to Soccer Saturday, to its new regular teatime live Premier League game and then Football First in front of a studio audience, Watson said: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."
Sky might say the same about some of the BT Sport schedule, particularly the decision to hire Tim Lovejoy to front a light-hearted Saturday morning show.
BT had already announced plans for the former BBC F1 frontman Humphrey to anchor a programme in front of an audience to try to retain viewers throughout the day. Now Green says BT may not use a Top Gear-style audience after all. But whether it has enough high-quality content to convince avid fans they need it in addition to Sky, or casual fans to switch to BT Broadband, is the billion-pound question. BT has already invested well over that figure in getting the channels up and running, including acquiring the UK assets of ESPN. It is understood to be hopeful of adding a four-year contract for the FA Cup, perhaps in conjunction with the BBC, to its portfolio from 2014.
BT has also spent a small fortune signing up ambassadors such as Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie, who will play as yet undefined promotional roles. Rio Ferdinand will have a more active role, coming up with a range of programme ideas and fronting some of them.
"Sky have been good for football, but it's always good to have some competition. I look at it like football – it's not interesting for the fans to have one team winning everything," said Ferdinand, whose first show is a "skills-based" concept featuring players "out of their comfort zone".
"BT have come in, they've come in with fresh ideas and some new, different concepts and hopefully it will invigorate the market," added the Manchester United defender, who said his career on the pitch would continue to come first.
Ferdinand, who will be on the opposite side to his former team-mate turned pundit Gary Neville, believes one of the reasons BT has brought him on board is for his ability to bridge the gap between multimillionaire players and fans.
"They saw how quickly I grasped on to the social media side of things and how it can bring you closer to the fans," he said. "I think BT want to interact and get people closer to the game and to the players. I've shown I can do that on social media and they want me to do that on TV."
Both sides are keen to talk up the likely competitiveness of the Premier League this season and the potential for new storylines to emerge given the changes at the biggest clubs in the country. But things are likely to be just as lively off the pitch.
"We're in the middle of a campaign and not at the end of it. This is a long-term game," says Watson. "But what we wanted to do is build a sense of excitement and a bit of a buzz around this channel and to get people to start looking at BT differently. All the evidence so far suggests we've started to do that."